The recent notification by Agriculture Ministry on May 18 regarding the new framework for licenses for agricultural biotechnology covering the current and future technologies has been criticized by the Associated Chambers of commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). The Chamber has further urged for the review of the same.
According to ASSOCHAM, this notification would create an environment that discourage research & innovation and, therefore, needs to be relooked at. This draft notification may affect India’s cotton sector badly and will have deep-rooted consequences for all other knowledge and innovation driven sectors.
ASSOCHAM further states that by trying to determine the price of technology, overriding existing commercial contracts of technology providers and introducing essentially compulsory licensing provisions; it may send negative message. This could have implications across R&D and technology intensive sectors such as pharmaceuticals, telecom and has potential to dampen investor interest in government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
Agriculture R&D is a long process that requires huge investments over decades to develop and launch hybrids and new technologies in seeds. Amid increasing consumer demand, India’s agricultural sector is under constant pressure to increase farm output, even as farmer struggle against inclement weather, water shortage and high labour costs that make it an imperative to encourage innovation rather than penalizing innovative firms.
A policy framework that honours the originality of mutually agreed contracts, safeguards intellectual property, and encourages investments in research and innovation is the foundation for knowledge-driven India that will enable its citizens to prosper.